Off The Record: The 'Run for the Rose Garden'

April 26, 2004|HERB BROCK

This Saturday will mark the world's most famous thoroughbred event with the running of the Kentucky Derby. But while the first Saturday in May is a huge equine event, the first Tuesday in November this year will feature an even more important horse race.

So in the spirit of the derby, allow me a little fantasy and whimsy as I call the Run for the Rose Garden:

And they're off! In the lead is John Kerry, a proud, aristocratic horse running with his nose in the air. He's looking good and so is his jockey, wearing those Heinz ketchup-red silks. The left side of the grandstand is going crazy. The right side is jeering.

But Kerry's starting to run from one side of the track to the other. I'm not sure if it's those flip-flops he's wearing on his hooves or that little pinto pony that's running alongside of him is what's causing Kerry to run erratically.


That annoying little pinto is Ralph Nader and he's giving Kerry fits. He's on Kerry's left side and appears to be trying to push him toward the middle of the course so Nader can have the left side to himself. Nader's jockey, wearing earthy green silks, is waving to the left side of the stands trying to get their support.

Running right behind Kerry is George Bush, a horse with the same aristocratic bearing as Kerry but wearing a ten gallon hat and spurs on his hooves. Unlike Kerry, who's all over the track, Bush is staying on the right side of the track, and the right side of the grandstand is going nuts.

Hold your horses! Bush is stopping dead in his tracks. He's sniffing for something. He's sticking his nose through the rail checking out the grass. I know what he's doing. He's looking for WMDs - weeds, mushrooms and dandelions. He was doing this at all the Derby preps, and he's never found any of the stuff he's been looking for.

But Bush's jockey, looking patriotic in his red, white and blue silks, is whipping his horse back into action. Bush is making some noises and his jockey's laughing. Most horses whinny. Bush is saying "whinn-ery" or some nonsense like that. It's a good thing he's not Mr. Ed because you couldn't understand what he's saying.

But you can understand Kerry. He's saying "neigh, neigh" in the most proper way, very, very slowly in an upper crust Boston Brahman manner. And he keeps saying it and keeps saying it. While Bush's jock is laughing at his nonsense, Kerry's jock is so bored with his horse's incessant, slow chatter he's about to fall asleep.

However, Kerry won't be asleep long. Here comes his pace horse - that big, fat nag with a huge white mane and big red nose called Teddy. While that pesky pony Nader is trying to push Kerry to the middle, Teddy is trying to push Kerry back to the left.

Nader's standing his ground, but not for long. Teddy just ran over the little pinto. Nader is as flat as a pancake. Now Teddy's running through the rail and is heading for the pond in the middle of the infield. He's come out of the pond but his female jockey is still in there. Security guards have surrounded Teddy but they haven't lassoed him. In fact, they're consoling him. Anybody care about the poor jockey in the pond?

Meanwhile, Kerry is back to bouncing from one side of the track to the next while Bush is getting assistance from his own pace horse and stablemate, Dick Cheney. Wearing that characteristic snarl on one side of his face, Cheney is trying to help Bush pick up the pace.

Cheney is a workhorse. While trying to keep Bush in line, he's also pulling a horse trailer filled with construction equipment and a safe full of tax dollars. Cheney's pushing and pulling, running and gunning and now has his horse in the lead.

But Bush doesn't enjoy the lead for long. Out of nowhere comes Al Franken, wearing his characteristic toothy grin and wearing a sandwich board for a saddle. It says, "Liar, liar."

Whoa, horses! Franken is broadsided by a big horse with a big mouth. That's Rush Limbaugh and he has flat run over Franken. Now Limbaugh has gone down. Out of Franken's mouth are teeth flying everywhere. Out of Limbaugh's mouth are little pills flying everywhere.

The only horses left on the track are Kerry and Bush, and the two studs are heading down the stretch. The left side of the grandstand and most of the media are cheering for Kerry. The right side of the grandstand and most of the talk radio crowd are cheering for Bush.

It's Bush in the lead! Now it's Kerry! Bush! Kerry! Bush! Kerry! And it's Bush by a nose - a very, very long nose!

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